When you build your plate of fresh, organic, and nutrient dense food, what elements do you consider?
A Balanced Plate
By now, you may have caught on to one of my favorite topics of nutritional therapy, which is macronutrient balancing. Choose a high quality protein, healthy fat, and nutrient dense carbohydrate at every meal and snack. Often in our culture, we bias toward refined carbohydrates, which spike blood sugar especially when eaten alone. Fill the carbohydrate section of the meal with about 1/2 cup of starchy vegetables like potatoes and butternut squash, soaked grains like quinoa, millet, or rice, and soaked legumes like black beans or lentils. Cook your grains and legumes with kombu seaweed to further break down the anti-nutrients like lectins that may cause digestive upset hours after the meal.
Pictured here is a classically nutrient dense meal: organic green salad with turmeric lemon dressing, baked wild-caught salmon, roasted Brussels sprouts, beets, & mushrooms, and rosemary sweet potatoes. Eaten in that order and chewed slowly, your meal may be easier digested.
Make Foods Easier to Digest
Eat raw food and cooked food separately, and try to avoid combining the two. Raw food like fruit breaks down more quickly than cooked foods, and if eaten at the end of a meal may putrefy and start to ferment in the stomach. Given the choice to eat raw and cooked food during the same meal, always start with the raw food first as an appetizer. After working on strengthening digestive function over time and balancing any dysbiosis, there may be exceptions to this guideline. For example, enjoy a raw green salad with roasted fall vegetables and a citrus dressing or chicken burgers in a lettuce wrap with fresh tomato.
Combine a healthy fat like coconut cream, avocado, high quality animal meat, or wild-caught fish with elements that support fat digestion like citrus, artichokes, beets, radish, or dandelion greens. This is actually fairly intuitive, since we tend to eat fish with lemon, artichokes with mayonnaise or butter, and a creamy coconut soup with lime juice. This natural pair supports digestion and may minimize discomfort after a high fat meal. If there are any outstanding liver or gallbladder issues known, take caution with high fat foods and increase supports to these organs.
Consider calcium and oxalates. When cooking with dairy, be sure to avoid high-oxalate foods. Oxalates are a compound found in some foods that inhibit the absorption of calcium. The classic example of a calcium rich food and high oxalate food paired is creamed collard greens or spinach. For this dish, substitute coconut cream for dairy. You can also substitute the greens and use Swiss chard, mustard greens, or kale.
Select foods with enzymes. Snack on raw pineapple or papaya before dinner to stimulate protein-digesting enzymes. Cabbage contains vitamin U, which helps heal the intestinal lining. Ginger is soothing to the digestive tract, helpful in eliminating gas, and stimulating to digestion. Fennel, like its close relative celery, contains many vitamins and minerals and acts as antispasmodic to the intestines.
Test, Don’t Guess
Arguably the best way to think about building your plate is in relation to food sensitivities. Too often we are sensitive to foods, but we can’t figure out which ones! Maybe you’ve experienced this before. You are left guessing what exactly in that dinner made you feel bloated. If you have any intolerance to foods, chances are the intestinal lining is compromised and in need of healing supports. The first step in the healing process is identifying and eliminating your sensitivities! Otherwise, with frequent exposure to those foods, your immune system stays on high alert and healing becomes much harder, if not impossible. My method for assessing the overall health of the GI tract is both the GI Map and MRT test. Read more about these offerings and my services here.
If you need support in any of the aforementioned categories, it may be time to reach out and discover those hidden food sensitivities! Contact me to learn more about comprehensive functional testing for your gut. Let’s map out a path to your best healing and you’ll be on the way to your strongest digestion.
A Nutrient Dense Blondie
Now for one of my current favorite & fun recipes: protein packed chickpea blondies. I’ve adapted this recipe from Cindy over at endo.fertility.dietician on Instagram. Thanks!
- 1 can organic chickpeas, drained & rinsed
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
- 1/3 cup organic peanut butter [I love crunchy]
- 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon pink salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- [optional 1 scoop unsweetened protein powder or grass-fed collagen]
- 1/2 cup carob, cacao, or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×9 baking pan with coconut oil. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips to a food processor and blend on high until well combined [3-5 minutes]. Stir in most of the chocolate chips, leaving some to the side. Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly, then top with the remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 25-30 minutes, let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Slice into 9 pieces, serve, and enjoy!